Monday, 24 September 2012

The Number 390 Route

Monday 24 September 2012

Linda had very kindly changed the date so I could use the latter part of the week to visit the chicken pox ridden areas of the East Midlands:  I should not have liked to miss this route, as it is one of the two that pass near my house, and I had never travelled all of it.

So, 'what larks', as Joe Gargery used to remark to Pip, and we met at Notting Hill Station in what can only be described as pouring rain.  We set off, bound for Archway, at 10.10.  I stood aside for some people who were already at the bus stop, and they grabbed the front seats;  but there were fewer photo opportunities than on a sunny day so we were not too unhappy.  We thought they might be Finnish, since we could not glean any words from their conversation, whereas most other European languages have some familiar sounds.

Very smoothly, we reached the southern side of Hyde Park, retracing the route of the Central Line which had brought us to the start,  and admiring the handsome terraces with their modern sculpture. (Actually we thought this one looked a bit like one of those take-apart models that were used for anatomy lessons in the days before modern IT)

We got to Hyde Park Corner rapidly, noting the Tyburn Shrine at the convent there.  Those executed by Queen Elizabeth I are known as the English Martyrs, though they had of course sworn allegiance to a foreign power which had authorised the death of the sovereign, in a sort of 1571 version of a fatwa.  The shrine's website makes no mention of the 300 Protestants executed in the previous reign.  But I digress.  

We noticed that the strange horse's head sculpture was still at Hyde Park Corner, but were happily unable to photograph it as we headed rapidly into Oxford Street, still following the Central Line.

Selfridge's windows were spotty enough to make me think of the grandsons again.  The Yayoi Kusama windows are rather good, and you can see them being constructed here.

At least as interesting was the new build which as filled that hole where the dinosaurs were for so many months.  It isn't finished yet, but should be soon.  And, of course, Cross Rail is now busy with Bond Street Station, though the huge space down by Tottenham Court Road Station isn't finished yet.

The London College of Fashion is logoed as part of the University of the Arts, but we suspect that they would not want to move to King;'s Cross and away from the rag trade hub where they are now. 

We turned left to go up Tottenham Court Road, and the interlopers in 'our' front seat got off, presumably to go to the British Museum. We made rapid progress up  here, as we had along Oxford Street.  We were not sure whether it was recession, or wet Monday, but were pleased to get this route completed before Christmas shopping begins.  Passing the former entrance to the Second World War deep shelter at Goodge Street, we saw that it was now called 'Recall'.  It was the Eisenhower building for some years, as it had been one of his D-Day planning bases.

Past Heals, with its attractive plasterwork details, we reached the Euston Road, and University College Hospital.  Clearly those modernistic building materials were of high quality, as it looks pretty spruce.  I regard it as 'my' hospital since an encounter with a taxi took me off my bike and onto the pavement some years ago.

 Close by is the Wellcome Collection, always worth a visit, and the large chunk of real estate that is the Friends' Centre.  We speculated that frugal living and industrial prowess had made the Quakers rich enough to buy and hold onto this prime site.

The underpass was occupied by stationary traffic, but thanks to the blessings of the bus lane, we were soon into and out of the congested space which is Euston's Bus Station. I felt nostalgic as I spotted the 68:  my second journey of the project (number 2 to West Norwood,) enabled me to do the 68 back to here.

On along the Euston Road, past the British Library and the St Pancras Hotel, the rain meant that pictures were simply smears, and we turned right up York Way, where there isn't even a pretence at a bus station, despite the large number of buses which pass this way.

On up York Way, we went past Kings Place, the excellent concert venue with  the Guardian attached, and crossed the Canal.  
Next we passed the huge and forbidding new housing which is going up on the railway lands.  Will there be enough foreign students to fill the block close to the railway bridge?  Is £200,000 for a one bedroom flat 'affordable'?  Only time will tell and, of course, I may have identified the wrong block.

The night club along here, which used to be called 'Egg' is now 'The Apothecary' but still has bouncers mixing with the commuters, whatever time you go past.  

After 'not getting off' at the stop for my house, we were in the Camden Park Road one way system which means that I cannot talk about the whole food and Italian delicatessen shopping opportunities of Brecknock Road, but can mention Lord Stanley, for whom the pub along here is named.  He the one who helped to cause the Tudors, by changing sides with his substantial forces at the Battle of Bosworth.  On we went, past the houses built on the old site of the Jewish Free School, and so to Tufnell Park Station, famous for there being no Park nearby.

Signs to the Whittington Hospital told us that we were near to the end of this journey and sure enough, we arrived at Archway at 11.10, exactly an hour after leaving Notting Hill.


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  2. I am slightly confused by a couple of references in the early part of your journey. Surely the 390 goes along the *northern* edge of Hyde Park not the southern one? Also the 390 does not serve Hyde Park Corner but goes through the Marble Arch junction / gyratory. Was your bus diverted for some reason and took a different route from normal?

  3. A historical note of interest: the 390 was the last new route to be introduced with conductors (at the time the Congestion Charge was first introduced).